As Donald Trump stood at a podium in North Carolina Friday afternoon and denied the allegations of multiple women who have accused him of making inappropriate and physically aggressive sexual advances on them, a former contestant on his hit reality television show, The Apprentice, went in front of cameras in California to describe in lurid detail another such alleged episode.
The latest accuser, Summer Zervos, appeared briefly on the television program in 2006, but made contact with Trump afterward in hopes of getting a job. On Friday, sitting next to attorney Gloria Allred, she tearfully described him as aggressively sexual and lewd during a meeting at a California hotel.
Zervos was not even the first woman to go public on Friday. Earlier in the day, Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty reported on another woman, Kristin Anderson, who claimed that in a club in New York City in the 1990s, Trump approached her and, without a word, pushed his hand up her skirt and touched her genitals.
The incident, which Anderson reportedly shared with friends a number of times over the years, is eerily similar to a boast Trump made to Access Hollywood host Billy Bush in a 2005 videotape unearthed last week, in which Trump claimed that his celebrity allowed him to do things to women, including “grab[bing] them by the pussy” with impunity.
At his campaign event Friday afternoon, Trump continued to insist that all of the accusations now arising are totally false.
“They have no witnesses,” he said. “There’s nobody around. They just come out. Some are doing it for probably a little fame. They get some free fame.”
He also stepped up his odd choice of defense: implying that he doesn’t find some of his accusers attractive and would therefore have been ... not interested in assaulting them?
He referred to one woman who says Trump groped her on a plane many years ago as “that horrible woman,” and went on to demean her looks. “Believe me, she would not be my first choice.”
He again seemed to suggest that People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff, who wrote a first-person piece alleging that Trump assaulted her, is unattractive. “She is a liar,” he said, denying that he had assaulted her. “Check out her Facebook page, you’ll understand.” On Thursday, Trump made similar comments, urging his followers to “look at her” and saying, “I don’t think so.”
Allred, the attorney representing Zervos, is well-known for representing women in workplace bias cases. At the close of today’s press conference she said, “Many other women have contacted me” about being harassed by Trump. However, she said that she did not yet know whether any would come forward.
Zervos, who identified herself as a Republican, suggested that she had come forward for the sake of her own peace of mind. “I want to be able to sleep, when I’m 70, at night.”
Anderson’s story was different. Despite the Trump campaign’s suggestion that she was looking for fame or some sort of financial gain from telling her story, she did not come to The Washington Post on her own. According to Tumulty, the reporter, she was given a tip by someone who had heard Anderson tell her story about Trump and encouraged her to check it out.
Anderson said that she agreed to go public because she felt she ought to support the other women who had done so.